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RAF Wittering host British Army unit, 16 Air Assault Brigade, for Exercise Swift Pirate




Heavy aircraft returned to the skies above RAF Wittering last week as the station hosted Gurkhas and 16 Air Assault Brigade for Exercise Swift Pirate.

The British Army unit, 16 Air Assault Brigade, is specially trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter and air-landing.

During Exercise Swift Pirate No 1 Air Mobility Wing (1AMW), which specialises in aircraft handling, passenger and cargo handling and the safe loading and unloading of military transport aircraft, also put its personnel to the test and keeps those vital skills up to scratch. The exercise is a regular feature in the station’s busy calendar, and the heavy aircraft of the RAF Mobility Force are a familiar sight in the skies.

Senior Aircraftman Joseph Tuitoga. Photo: SAC Kimberley Waterson
Senior Aircraftman Joseph Tuitoga. Photo: SAC Kimberley Waterson

Group Capt Jo Lincoln, station commander at RAF Wittering and commander of the A4 Force Elements, said: “It’s all about the training, making sure that we are ready to deploy anywhere in the world, whenever we are needed.

“Working together, 1AMW and 16 Air Assault Brigade produce a powerful military effect and we’re very happy to have them both here.”

Swift Pirate is the first exercise for SAC Joseph Tuitoga, 24, from 1AMW.

The A400M outside Air Traffic Control at RAF Wittering (43227610)
The A400M outside Air Traffic Control at RAF Wittering (43227610)

He said: “It’s my first exercise so I didn’t really know what to expect.

“It’s been quite challenging at times, but it’s designed to stretch you so that in a real-life situation you know how to handle it.”

During the exercise personnel live as though they were on an operation. They practise core military skills, are accommodated in basic conditions and exposed to simulated threats.

Gurkhas at RAF Wittering stand ready. Photo: SAC Kimberley Waterson
Gurkhas at RAF Wittering stand ready. Photo: SAC Kimberley Waterson


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